Your thermostat senses that the room temperature has fallen below your thermostat setting and sends a signal to your heating system to provide heat for your home.
Oil-fired heating systems distribute heat in one of three ways:
Warm air through vents
Hot water through baseboards
Steam through radiators
When your oil burner is engaged, heating oil travels from the tank to the burner by way of a pump. There it becomes a fine mist mixed with air. The fuel/air mixture is then injected into the burner where it is ignited in the combustion chamber.
Heating System Types
Depending on the type of system you have, water-based or forced hot air, the system works differently to disperse heat throughout your home.
There are two main types of water-based systems: hot water systems and steam systems. Water is heated in either a cast iron or steel boiler before it is dispersed throughout your home.
In a hot water system, the heated water is circulated through radiators or baseboards. In a steam system, water turns to steam and rises through pipes to the radiators.
In a warm air system, your furnace heats air. A blower then forces the heated air up through ducts and out of vents in your floors or walls. The air gets drawn back to the furnace through a return duct, and the cycle repeats.
Finally, emissions from the combustion of fuel and air exit the system through a flue pipe that runs out of your home through the chimney.